Many people used their surfeit of spare time during lockdowns to pick up knitting or sourdough baking, but Bridget Kimber’s pandemic project was slightly more ambitious in scope. Her original plan was to find a small cottage in the Barossa Valley to renovate and flip, but then she saw Kapunda’s heritage-listed railway station for sale. “I just fell in love with it straight away,” she tells Broadsheet.
The handsome Italianate two-storey station – situated 10 minutes from the western ridge of the Barossa Valley and under an hour from Clare – opened in 1860 when Kapunda was a thriving copper town; trains continued to carry passengers and wheat from the surrounding farmland until 1996. By the time Kimber came along the building needed a lot of work, so she set about “removing anything that wasn't original, or necessary” and letting the history shine through.
Suitcases and hatboxes scattered around the living room point to its former life as a baggage room while the window in the neighbouring kitchen still has painted lettering from when it served as a ticket office. And the old tearoom has been turned into a bedroom that Kimber jokingly refers to as the “snorer’s quarters” because it’s separated from the other bedrooms by several thick stone walls. It’s one of seven bedrooms (some connected as family rooms), and with a fold-out bed there’s room for 15 guests without ever feeling crowded.
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High ceilings and immaculate white walls create a sense of space throughout the building. The living room, dining room and games room all open onto a train platform with a long table that’s perfect for communal meals. On the other side of the building is a courtyard with a 12-metre pool and a reading nook in the former cold store, while the herb garden is joined by an orchard of apple, pomegranate, quince, fig, peach and apricot trees. Kimber even commissioned a swirling feature sculpture called Destination by Clayton Blake, who is most famous for his large-scale installations at Burning Man.
Modern industrial equipment and beautiful handmade ceramics from Really Useful Pots in the Barossa sit side by side in the kitchen, which comes stocked with staples like bread, coffee, muesli and fresh fruit. Kimber also makes sure there are always three different types of milk “because when you’ve got 15 people there are bound to be some dietaries”. The Station @ Kapunda even has a boutique wine label (Platform No. 1) that includes a Barossa shiraz and an Eden Valley riesling, and there’s always a bottle waiting for guests when they arrive.
For guests who don’t want to cook, Kimber can arrange a visit from culinary experts including The Bearded Cook and local Vietnamese chef Maggie Truong (“her unique take on chicken wings with tamarind is to die for!”). Other activities include wine masterclasses with Jane Ferrari (the legendary former Yalumba “storyteller” – her official job title), guided yoga sessions, and Murder on the Kapunda Express, a hosted murder mystery set in the 1920s – taking guests back to the golden age of rail – which can be paired with a five-course dinner and matched wines from 100-year-old vines.
They may not seem to have a lot in common, but these activities are all linked by a single thread: Kimber’s desire to transport people away from their daily lives when they visit. “The Station @ Kapunda is meant to be a place you can go to escape,” she says. “It’s all about approachable luxury and feeling comfortable so you can have a good time and make some incredible memories.”
Rates start at $1500 per night at The Station, with a minimum two-night stay. Book here.
The writer stayed as a guest of The Station @ Kapunda.